Toronto, September 1: An Indo-Canadian MP from the ruling Liberal Party, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a female staffer, has denied the charges levelled against him and vowed to defend his reputation “at all costs”.
Punjab-born Darshan Kang, 66, who immigrated to Canada in 1970 and currently represents a constituency from Calgary, has been accused of sexual overtures by a 24-year-old female staffer who works in his constituency office in Calgary.
The allegations involving the Liberal MP initially surfaced in mid-August. According to Ottawa-based newspaper the Hill Times, the staffer filed the complaint in June with Chief Liberal Whip Pablo Rodriguez.
According to the father of the female staffer, Kang sexually harassed her over four to five years when he subjected her to “unwelcome hugs” and even tried to hold her hand during car rides.
The father alleged that once Kang brought her to a hotel room in Ottawa, offered her wine and then tried to remove her jacket.
Kang issued a statement on Tuesday claiming innocence even as a new allegation surfaced that he tried to buy the woman’s silence by offering her $100,000.
The opposition National Democratic Party urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately suspend the Calgary MP from the Liberal caucus until an investigation was completed.
The Liberal MP said: “For the past decade I have dedicated my life to public office. Since the allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against me, I have been under a tremendous amount of stress and subsequently I was placed on medical leave.
“While I cannot comment directly on an open, ongoing investigation, I continue to proclaim my innocence and will defend my reputation at all costs,” Kang said.
Today, a second woman has now come forward with allegations about Calgary-Skyview MP Darshan Kang, claiming he sexually harassed her while she worked for him.
Kirstin Morrell, a staffer who worked for Kang when he was serving as MLA, claims he grabbed her breasts and committed other inappropriate behaviour while he was with her.
She says she told Kang to stop several times but the acts continued to occur.
In a statement, Morrell wrote:
“It was difficult to put this behind me and I thought I had but then this arose and it was my understanding that the current complainant was being given a really hard time over the allegations she made. Since it is my belief, based on my experience, that she is likely telling the truth, I felt I had to come forward.”
After the second woman went on record, Darshan Kang announced that he would be leaving the Liberal caucus.
He said the reasoning was because he didn’t want his ‘present circumstances’ to affect the work of the Liberal government.
He has, however, vowed that he is innocent of the allegations against him.
Avinash Khangura, president of the Calgary-Skyview riding association says he hasn’t spoken with Kang since his resignation, but says the MP has their support.
“It’s very tough for me to believe that whatever happened,” said Avinash Kangura, who is also a close friend of Kang’s. “It’s very tough to believe but you never know, but the association is full behind him.”
He says the riding association will be meeting next week to discuss the situation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who had refrained from offering any comment until an investigation was completed and said Kang remained a member of the Liberal caucus, has accepted Kang’s decision.
“I can assure people that our whip’s office and the human resources of the Parliament of Canada are engaged, as they must be, in this process. I have no further comment to make at this time on the independent process that is being undergone,” the Prime Minister said.
A successful real estate agent and then an Alberta MLA, Kang was elected as an MP from Calgary in the last Canadian general election in 2015. There are over 20 Indian-origin MPs in the 338-member House of Commons.
-IANS with Agencies